I hate my hair now. All the way through my youth, right up to my early 30’s I never thought about my hair. It was always just there. A great bushy cloud that might go a tiny bit frizzy if it rained. Up to around my early 20’s I sported a perm. Unfashionable even then, and looking back, it was dreadful. But certainly low maintenance. It meant I had a good all over head of curls which didn’t need to be blow died or cared for.
Jesus. Look at it. But, as you can see. I had lots to play with. A bit of Frizz Ease and I was sorted. Sorry about masking my face in these pictures but as a teacher I am trying to keep anonymous to avoid the mocking laughter of my pupils.
Then, in the early 2000’s, and I remember exactly when as it coincided with the first ever ‘Big Brother,’ I went on a diet. As the ex-nun Anna and nasty Nick exchanged quips and banter I was carefully measuring out diet drinks, determined to finally lose that three stone which had been hanging around for too long.
For legal reasons (which you will appreciate later) I am not allowed to tell you the name of the diet company. Suffice it to say, it was very low calorie and I was on it for three months. I was delighted when the weight fell off. A bonus was my hair was thicker and more lustrous than I had ever known it. I didn’t have the perm any more, my hair care routine was squishing in handfuls of a peculiar smelling volumising mousse before scrunching it with a diffusing hair dryer. This created nice, crispy curls which I would roll between my fingers when at work, enjoying the crackling sounds.
Half way through the diet I met Rob. He was mystified why he never saw me eat anything except what looked like astronaut food, but he didn’t question it too closely. We were bonkers about each other. Two months in the weight was off but my hair started to fall out in great handfuls. Three months after that I went to a trichologist who told me I had lost 80% of my hair. EIGHTY PER CENT!
I looked awful. Thankfully I didn’t have bald patches, unlike some of the other members of my diet group, who had also lost loads of their hair. The company hadn’t warned us that a side effect of rapid dieting was hair loss. If they had, then I wouldn’t have been able to (successfully) sue them, along with all the other member of my group. I vividly remember one member of the group, an Indian woman with beautiful sheets of black hair which stretched down her back, sobbing as she showed me spreading bald patches at the back of her head and demonstrated how she could pull out great skeins of silken strands from her scalp.
So the diet definitely ruined my hair, and I put most of the weight back on within a few months. Poor Rob, he fell in love with a minxy slim(ish) bird with a lovely swinging head of hair, and within six months was stuck with a fat, balding, depressed cow who kept crying on him.
In all three of my pregnancies I had lovely thick hair, but after the birth it all fell out at once. The trichologist had warned me that the shock of losing the weight on the diet (which also lacked certain nutrients which exacerbated the problem – I notice the company now includes more vitamins and minerals including vitamin B which weren’t there when I used it) had permanently disrupted the natural cycle of my hair, so any major event like pregnancy would cause it to fall out again.
All of this caused huge anxiety and I remember crying my eyes out at the hairdresser when they said there was nothing they could do with my 80% loss of hair; I had to have it cropped back to a man cut so I could grow it back again without looking like a mad woman. Although I treasured the handful of thinning long wisps I had, even I could see that I was looking more and more like I was rocking a bad combover* and it had to be cut back. Walking round with inch long hair was horrible. With my big fat round face short hair simply does not work. Whenever I looked in the mirror I cried. (I know, First World Problems, but still…)
*Remember the Hamlet Cigar Man?
I had come to terms with the fact that my hair wasn’t quite as good as it was before the diet but it seemed OK and I could make it look nice with a bit of effort. Then I got older. Over 45. Quite a bit past 45. That’s when I realised that despite only allowing my hairdresser to cut off half an inch once a year, my hair wasn’t growing. In fact it seemed to be getting shorter and shorter.
So here I am, having consciously grown my hair for thirty years and it’s the shortest it’s ever been, around jaw length. Even worse, the type of hair I seem to be growing has changed. It seems to be wiry, thin, coarse and too fine all at once. Frizzy and lank. How is this possible? God only knows how much grey I’ve got under my colour. I’ve been dying my hair for so long I can’t remember the last time I saw its natural colour. Maybe it’s completely white? My grandma turned completely white at 30, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.
The worst thing of all, is that it is completely impossible to style it. Whatever I do at home, no matter what product I try (and trust me I have tried them all), within an hour my hair looks terrible. I mean TERRIBLE. Frizzy, bumpy bits sticking out, bits lying flat, the casual side swept fringe curls up and retreats like singed spiders’ legs and the longer thicker bits at the back clump together in dreadlock like hanks. I’ve tried curlers, sleep-in curlers, blow drying, straightening irons, just letting it dry naturally (ha! that was the most unsuccessful of the lot) and my old trick of crunching with a diffuser and it always, ALWAYS ends in disaster. Don’t believe me? Check out this picture.
This is me, just before going to bed. The night before I had slept in gentle curlers that created lovely big waves. I was really pleased. They lasted about an hour and got worse and worse before I ended the day like this. Look at that bloody fringe! What is it DOING!?
So my lovely, lovely hairdresser, who is mobile – thanks God – comes and regularly sorts me out so I look vaguely human. This is what she does…
That’s a bit better isn’t it?
But still! Look how short it is… That’s thirty years of growing my hair that is. And look at that thin fringe. A real blow after spending my youth with a lovely thick fringe (bangs?) that went all the way across my forehead.
Also, it’s all very well having a nice blow dry, but one bit of rain, or a slightly sweaty wait in a queue (like when I met Norman Reedus that time) it goes horrible again. The fringe kinks back on itself like the evil bitch she is, and all the carefully coaxed forward waves dive to the back of my head where they feel they belong. Look at this picture. The day I met one of my favourite authors, Marian Keyes. The blow dry should have ensured flowing hair coming down over my fat cheeks to slim my face a bit. Ten minutes waiting in a sweaty queue and the whole lot has shrunk backwards leaving my fat face fully exposed.
So what to do? Nothing is working. Holidays are coming up and I want something quick and simple that will liven me up a bit and make me feel swishy. I was inspired by Catherine over at Atypical 60 to try out a wig.
What a complete and utter disaster. First of all, I did it on a whim, without checking the reviews. I ordered this wig from Howigs. It had a co.uk website address so I thought I was ordering from the UK. How wrong I was. It came from China. This is what I ordered.
Isn’t it lovely? A nice, not too long swishy wig which would make me feel young again as it will actually have hair around the front/top hair line (where I have lost most of mine – I can no longer rock a long, making my eyes blink Claudia fringe like I used to -sigh). I thought I’d order it in the mahogany cherry which looked quite like my own (dyed) colour.
Here’s what turned up.
It was the most horrid, limp, plastic feeling (supposed to be real hair) lumpen, badly cut, poorly made monstrosity. Where are the big swinging curls? Where is the thick falling locks around the face? Where is the special top supposed to look like skin so you can part the hair with it still look natural?
Rob’s response when I sent him the above photos was to send me this…
The children were horrified and Son said I looked like a man wearing a ‘rubbish scarf’ on his head.
I complained to Paypal and after a month they decided ‘the item was as described.’ so they wouldn’t pay me back. Really!?
After exchanging around a billion emails with Howigs, who kept offering to exchange (nope) or a partial refund of less than half the cost (nope again) I finally said I wanted all my money back and would send it back to China. I posted it last week and am waiting to hear that they have refunded me the money. Fingers crossed.
THEN I saw Catherine review a brilliant looking wig from Envy Wigs called Chloe.
I completely fell in love with it and decided I’d give it a try. It was impossible to get from USA so I looked for it over here. I discovered Envy Wigs are known by the brand name Nutmeg in the UK. Envy Wigs in the US gave me the name of their UK supplier: Hairware. When I phoned them they were delightful, really helpful and nice and answered all my questions. I put in an order, really excited, but then got an email to say they were out of stock. Oh no! Again the customer service was brilliant. They immediately refunded me the next day postage I had paid and followed up with another email to say the wig should be here early June. I will let you know what happens.
Meanwhile, I was still on the hunt for nice, long, swishy hair that didn’t look hideously unnatural. My hairdresser (I’m going to call her Bette) came to the rescue again by suggesting hair extensions. Apparently its what all the celebrities are wearing, darling. So I gave it a try and I am DELIGHTED with the effects
Firstly I bought a few packs of human hair clip ins from a local beauty shop. I got them in a lighter colour than my hair is currently because my hairdresser was going to dye them for me in the same colour she does my hair.
These are called ‘Single Weft Clip-in Hair Extensions’ from Wildest Dreams at Sally Beauty. They came to about £50 altogether because they had a 25% off sale!
First they were coloured and Bette coloured them when she dyed my hair. She then clipped onto my head and cut them to size.
Here you can see the uncut extensions which have been clipped in. I was really pleased with the colour match, even in direct sunlight you can’t see the difference in terms of colour.
If you look closely you can see my natural hair as it is slightly frizzier than the extensions, but when blow dried you can’t see the difference.
Bette then cut the extensions. There are about five pieces in there altogether including a front fringe piece. Once coloured, she curls them and this is what a finished one looks like.
Now when Bette puts them in for me they look great, and you really wouldn’t know there were there. You’d just think my hair looked longer and thicker than normal. However, the good news is they still look OK when I put them in myself, and trust me, I’m no expert. Annoyingly, I haven’t got any pictures of when Bette put them in, but here’s two shots of when I’ve put them in myself – in a hurry – to cover up crap looking hair.
On holiday and they look a bit ‘strandy’ because I didn’t have a decent brush. And in this next one it was Christmas and I had loads of family coming round and I wanted to look nice in the photos, despite having unwashed, frizzy, and roast-turkey-smelling hair, which I hadn’t had time to do anything with.
I am really pleased with how they look, and it’s great for a night out, or when you just want to feel swishy. And so far, not one person has spotted the hair was fake. I just need to stay inscrutable and mysterious and not say anything when I get compliments on my hair, rather than yelling out, ‘oh my God thank you! I’m so pleased with it! You know it’s all FAKE? Look! I’ll take a piece out to show you!’ Eye roll.
I’ll try and get a nice shot of my latest set of hair extensions once they have been properly fitted by Bette, rather than just shoved in by me. I’m still going to get the wig though. The trouble with the hair clips is they can be a bit sore once you’ve worn them a few hours, and I don’t like the pressure they put on my already thinning hair.
I want to try a wig so on really bad hair days, when Bette is far away and I look like an ugly old wreck with a frazzled daddy long legs on my head, I can plop on ‘Chloe’ and go out sight seeing in the sun without frazzling my hair still further. It may look awful, but it’s worth a try! Watch this space.